By Colin Coulahan (@cjc07) 05/14/21
BOSTON RED SOX
OF / 24.7 years old / AAA / 39% owned
If the Alternate Site MVP was an award, Jarren Duran would likely be the 2020 winner. He has always hit well in the minors, just without much power. Some mechanical changes to his swing added much needed pop to his profile and he showed off in the Dominican Winter League playoffs and this year in spring training. I’m looking for him to continue hitting for power against live pitching while keeping the good hit tool and speed.
1B / 21.3 years old / AA / 38% owned
2B / 22.8 years old / AAA / 46% owned
OF / 20.9 years old / A / 20% owned
I’m going to lump all these together because they’ve already been covered enough during 2020 and the offseason. Triston Casas demonstrated a mature approach with great power at the alternate site, so I want to see if that translates to live games. Gilberto Jimenez added 12 pounds of muscle when he showed up to fall instructs. Great news for potential power output but hopefully that doesn’t negatively affect the speed. Downs does a little bit of everything and if he starts off hot, he should be in Boston by the mid-point of the season.
SS / 18.9 years old / R / 4% owned
A 2018 International signing, Bonaci hasn’t played ball in the states due to the pandemic, so hopefully this year we can get eyes on him. There have been reports that he added 35 pounds of muscle and has overall been hitting the ball harder. Combine that with his mature approach, double plus speed and good fielding instincts, Bonaci could fly through the lower levels in 2021.
OF / 21.8 years old / A / 2% owned
Look past the 29.9% K rate in Short A and everything else about Nick Decker screams future masher. His headlining tool is the plus raw power, which he has shown to all fields in batting practice. Decker needs to improve his hit tool to translate that to game power, and he needs to show the ability to hit left-handed pitching. Right now, he profiles as a platoon player but if he gets more exposure to same sided pitching and can hit it, the profile takes a big step forward.
NEW YORK YANKEES
OF / 18.3 years old / A / 44% owned
There’s nothing new I can add to what is already written about Dominguez. He makes the list solely because of all the hype and the excitement to see him finally play pro ball. The Yankees have assigned the potential five tool stud to High A which is very aggressive but starting him the lower levels would just be a waste of time. His fantasy stock will get even higher (somehow) if he starts the season off hot.
OF / 18.9 years old / R / 15% owned
Alcantara is a player I feel is getting a bit slept on. You don’t hear his name often despite the exciting tools and the high ceiling he has. All his tools are graded average or above average and he still has projection left in his frame. The hit tool and approach need some work as he can get beat on breaking pitches and his swing can come out of sync, but if each of these take a step forward in 2021, we’re looking at a potential 20/20 player.
2B / 23.8 years old / A+ / 3% owned
More a of a floor over ceiling type, Smith already has the makings of being a solid everyday player. The hit tool is the carrying tool that’s backed up with a good approach at the plate. He has good instincts on the basepaths and is a solid defender. The Yankees will continue to develop him at shortstop but will probably also play him at other spots in the infield. When the minor league season starts up, I’m looking to see if Smith can add power. Right now, it’s just average, but the swing has natural loft and we’ve seen in the last few years how hitters who have plus contact skills can translate that into power because of their elite barrel control. The foundation and tools for a power breakout are here.
SS / 19.8 years old / A / 20% owned
Another 2020 Alternate Site darling, Henderson’s stock has risen quickly in the last year. All of Henderson’s tools are average to above average with room to grow. The Orioles’ training staff made some adjustments to Henderson’s mechanics at the alternate site after some early struggles and he was able to tap into more of the raw power he has. Since all we have to go off right now are reports, all I want to see this year is how he handles game action. If he can carry those mechanical changes over into live action this year, we’re looking at potential above average everyday player who can have some All-Star seasons.
P / 21.4 years old / A+ / 2% owned
Drew Rom is a pitcher to dream on. Right now, he’s projected to be a back end of the rotation type of pitcher but has the foundation to blow past that projection. The fastball velocity is mostly upper 80’s with good backspin and movement. It’s a pitch that will generate lots of bad contact. The slurve and the splitter are both above average (even if he doesn’t use the splitter as much) and Rom gets a lot from them with his advanced pitchability. There’s still projection left on his body. If he adds velocity to his fastball and the splitter continues to improve we’re looking at a mid rotation type pitcher.
SS / 19.8 years old / A / 1% owned
Bloodlines and athleticism are two words I would use to describe Hernaiz. His father played pro ball in the 90’s. After seeing the success of players like Vlad Jr, Bichette, and Tatis I’m starting to think bloodlines do have some weight. The tools are average, but he’s shows a good approach at the plate and looseness in the swing can lead to a higher power projection than previously expected. He’s a prospect you can dream on and I’m very excited to see what he can do in 2021.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
OF / 18.7 years old / R / 4% owned
A truly exciting package of tools, Diaz was part of the international free agency class of 2019 that has yet to play pro ball. All we have to go on right now is scouting reports, all of which are good. Good bat control, good plate coverage, hits the ball hard. Diaz has all the makings to be a solid hitter and good defender, so he’s absolutely a player I’m looking to get eyes on this summer.
Pedro Martinez (no relation)
SS / 20.3 years old / A+ / 2% owned
Martinez was originally part of the Cubs organization where he was viewed as one of the more advanced hitters in the system, for his age. He gets the bat on the ball, has a good feel for the strike zone, and is an above average runner. The only real knock on him right now is power. There’s no projection to his body left so unless he makes a swing change, he’s likely topping at 15 home runs in his prime. However, if he finds a way to tap into more game power the profile goes from super utility player to average middle infielder.
SS / 20.2 years old / AAA / 91% owned
You’ve heard of him, right? This may be a cheat, as there’s nothing I can say about Franco that hasn’t already been said. 80 grade hit tool, 60 grade power, 60 grade speed; the sky is the limit for him. The only real flaw you can find in his game is the batted ball profile. Franco has a more groundball heavy approach than you would like to see so there are some concerns about how much power he will immediately hit for in the major leagues. Hopefully his time in the minors this year is kept short so we can watch answer this question in the big leagues, but if he’s kept in AAA for some time I want to see him hit more fly balls and line drives and cut down on the grounders.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
P / 23.4 years old / AAA / 39% owned
I’m declaring that 2021 is the year of Alek Manoah. As of this past offseason he was projected to be a high-end reliever or back end of rotation type, but then he came into spring training and just mowed hitters down. He struck out 27 batters in 17 innings, while flashing 2 plus secondaries, and only walked 5 batters. The lack of walks is the big story here because Manoah has always had the stuff, it was the lack of command that has hurt him. If he can carry his spring training performance into the minor league season the sky is the limit.
2B / 22.7 years old / AA / 3% owned
Swing change candidate! Lopez has an above average hit tool with a short compact swing. Rarely strikes out, plus approach, and just puts together good at bats. He does lack significant power so most of his contact is ground balls or weak line drives. I would love to see him add some loft to his swing and make harder contact. His outlook becomes much more exciting if adds some pop to his profile.
OF / 23.4 years old / A+ / 1% owned
Robertson’s carrying tool is his 60-grade power, but like a few other players on this list the hit tool is what’s holding him back. The swing isn’t very athletic, and he doesn’t have great bat control, but there have been reports that he’s been working on a better swing path. There will likely always be some swing and miss in his profile, but he posts strong walk rates to help offset the low average. Robertson should be at Double-A at some point this year, where he’ll be facing more advanced pitching that he’s used to. He can be a bench bat or platoon type player right now based off his power but he’s going to have to start barreling more baseballs to be an everyday player.